Thursday, May 9, 2013

Road-side Recycling

Sifting through a pile of picket fences, a portable dunny and fluffy cushions I met a kid with the same passion for reuse as me. Council pick up time, when everyone puts out their debris on the roadside ready to be taken to the tip, is for some a great treasure hunt. Those trucks that go around picking up metal makes sense, they get cash for other peoples trash. But what about re-using what others see as waste for our own use?

My garden is being built on a budget. Three wooden gates came from our very street last pick up, plus cat run netting (new they sell for around $3000), two pairs of heavy duty gumboots and bamboo blinds which we employed to screen an ugly fence. This time it is shade cloth, three beautiful solid wooden doors with brass handles, only in need of some new paint, netting to add to the cat run, a trampoline mat (to use as shade cloth), large canvas signs for use as a tarp, plastic plant pots for propagation, and yes, I couldn't go past the picket fences, only in need of some new cross timbers to hold them together. Imagine the bill at the hardware store if I had bought all that new?

The blond haired boy took to the debris with glee. "We are going to build a cubby house" he told me. Perhaps a wrought iron chair would suit? Or how about these unused pine poles? You can even have a dunny? I suggested. He exclaimed that he couldn't believe that people would throw this stuff out.

council rubbish pick up pile

Many of us are guilty of throwing out perfectly good things in working order simply because we no longer have a use for them. So it's a great way to pick up something for free. Those cushions didn't even have a stain on them. Once we found a brand new football in it's plastic. Another time a stack of antique books, and 10 vintage cameras. Many things end up on the side of the road because they can no longer serve their original purpose. This is where a little bit of creativity can see a resource in something that someone else may see as rubbish. Carpet could be used for weed suppression, an old ladder as a pot plant stand. Making use of "waste" is an opportunity to extend the life of our resources and depend less on new resources to meet our needs. It's win win for the environment and for your hip pocket.

So don't be afraid to sift through a roadside pile. Whenever I have met the owner of their "waste", they are usually only too happy to see that someone has found a use for their stuff.

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